Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New memo from "ACS Insider"

PZ Myers has reprinted a new memo from "ACS Insider".  The new memo is a response to the ACS statement from Judith Benham published Monday in The Scientist.  (Also see my blog comments on the Benham statement.)  From the new ACS Insider memo:

Several of you contacted me about a memo from Judith L. Benham which claimed that the American Chemical Society is not protesting Open Access in order to preserve profits and bonuses for the Society's executives. You can find that memo attached to this email....

The most obvious falsehood is this passage: "Our Society's position is also represented by the Association of American Publishers, a non-profit organization whose membership encompasses the major commercial and non-profit scholarly publishers, including ourselves. ACS is not alone among scholarly publishers in reaching out to...."

The statement comes apart once you know the names of the players involved. The position of the AAP was developed by Brian Crawford, who is chairman of their scholarly division . Brian Crawford is also head of publishing at ACS....

So what we have are two organizations speaking from the same mouth.

This allows for clever gamesmanship by ACS executives.. Just last year, Rudy Baum wrote his second editorial in Chemical & Engineering News where he called Open Access "socialized science." To buttress his argument, Rudy cited --who would have ever guessed!?-- the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers, which "has taken a strong stand" against the Open Access bill.

Rudy also wrote that the AAP's scholarly division had written letters to senators opposing the bill.. What Rudy forgot to disclose to his readers is that the letters were signed by the chairman of the AAP's scholarly division, who is Brian Crawford, also head of publishing at ACS. Crawford is now apparently Rudy's boss.

Yes, Baum is that ridiculous. But it must be hard for a man to fully inform readers when his wallet tugs at his conscience. gets better.

Brian Crawford holds up his end of the bargain by penning letters against Open Access on behalf of the AAP, such as the letter last year to the Los Angeles Times. Brian wrote, "government bureaucracy continues to impede participation and undermines the successful expansion of information access." Crawford's byline was credited: "The writer chairs the executive council of the professional and scholarly publishing division of the Assn. of American Publishers.

I guess that Brian forgot to mention to the Los Angeles Times that he is also a publishing executive at the American Chemical Society. He might also have troubled editors with the minor fact that his bonuses will plummet if ACS publishing profits drop.

So now you see how their political campaign against Open Access works. First, Crawford creates the policy position at AAP's scholarly division; ACS executives then point to AAP policy for cover with their members. But it is all a shell game that quickly falls apart once anyone spends five minutes on Google....

PS:  For background, see the first ACS Insider memo.